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Politics

Unsafe Trains Type Scrapped in Switzerland Were Used in Greece

In February of 2022, promises were made to improve comfort, safety, and speed on the Athens-Thessaloniki rail line in Greece with the introduction of new trains. The line was later the route taken by the passenger train involved in the head-on collision with a cargo train that resulted in 57 fatalities and revealed a lack of safety measures.

An Investigate Europe and Greece’s Reporters United report revealed that the Italian company Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FSI), which purchased Greek rail operator TRAINOSE, intended to bring high-speed travel between the cities. The report warned about safety issues with Greece’s railways and revealed that contracts were kept secret from the public and press. FSI obtained five ETR 470 trains from Switzerland for use on the Athens-Thessaloniki lines. These trains were unreliable, difficult to maintain, and unsafe, and some had been decommissioned in Switzerland.

Although an investigation is underway into the cause of the crash, the blame has fallen largely on the New Democracy government, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and the four agencies running the railways. However, FSI has not commented, and there have been no reports of the company being held accountable for reported negligence in implementing safety measures. FSI has turned over the operation and oversight to Greek authorities.

The ETR 470 trains did not have modern fire protection systems, which is a concern when traveling through tunnels, such as the one at Tempi in Greece where the passenger train had just emerged. The ETR 470 trains were dubbed the Silver Arrow and promised speeds of 250 kilometers per hour, but some could not reach the high speeds promised.

The trains were manufactured in Italy by Giugiaro from 1993-97 and are up to 30 years old. They had a reputation so terrible that the Swiss stopped using them because of delays and breakdowns. One caught fire in 2009. Most of them were scrapped because there were no buyers willing to take them.

The report called for the purchase of proven trains or new trains and warned that there is nothing for free in life.

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